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Oceanography/Sperm Whale and Squid


My students are excited about giant squid and sperm whales and seeing getting information. I know that whales have been tagged in order to learn more information. Why are we not putting underwater camera's on these animals.  Is it because the whales hunt in the dark with echolocation? Could we use Night vision cameras. Let us know. Thanks:)

Hi. Great question. Unfortunately, I'm not a marine biologist so don't really have any experience with whale tracking. However, here are some thoughts.

I think night vision cameras are probably feasible. They exist and can do doubt be ruggedized. However, I'm not sure about battery life and data storage, in particular, if a whale is out foraging for weeks (or more) before the camera can be retrieved, the camera probably can't be on the whole time. This suggests figuring out when to turn it on. A good project for your students right there. If you want to catch them in the act of feeding on giant squid (which would be very worthwhile, of course), you might consider turning the camera on only when the whale is at a depth corresponding to feeding activity (would need simple depth sensor of course, which are cheap and not power/data storage hungry) or time the image acquisition to other features of the whale behavior.

Including an acoustic sensor (hydrophone) might indicate feeding behavior based on the whale's echolocation activity. The hydrophone wouldn't necessarily need to store a lot of data since it would be used to detect realtime activity (past activity, if uninteresting, could just be tossed out).

Lots of other possibilities, I think. You should contact NOAA or universities doing whale research to get information on their behavior. Hope this helps and good luck.  


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randy patton


Physical oceanography, surface and internal wave characteristics, ocean currents, fluid mechanics, geophysical fluid dynamics, ocean optics, coastal dynamics, modeling and simulation, data analysis, El Nino and related large scale dynamics Not an expert in marine biology (some in bioluminescence) or chemical oceanography


26 years as professional scientist for research company working mostly on Navy and other government contracts. Projects included modeling, simulations and data analysis related to Non-acoustic Anti-submarine Warfare (NAASW). Other projects included remote sensing of ocean features, statistical analysis of ship tracks, ocean optics instrumentation development, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and sonar (SAS).

Journal of Physical Oceanography, 1984, "A Numerical Model for Low-Frequency Equatorial Dynamics" (with M. Cane)

MS Physical Oceanography, MIT, 1981 BS Applied Math, UC Berkeley, 1976

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